December 17, 2013
A confluence of events and offers has made it possible to earn up to 25 miles per dollar when buying merchandise at Sears.com via the MileagePlus Shopping Portal:
- The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 8 miles per dollar at Sears to Chase MileagePlus credit card holders (and 6X to everyone else).
- The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 500 bonus miles with every $250 spent through the portal.
- The Chase Freedom card is currently offering 5 points per dollar at department stores (including Sears), up to $1500 in spend this quarter.
- Sears is currently allowing gift card purchases to earn points through the United MileagePlus shopping portal.
Let’s look at each of these, in turn:
Sears up to 8X via MileagePlus Shopping
If you’re a MileagePlus cardholder, you’ll see that Sears is currently offering 8 miles per dollar through the United MileagePlus shopping portal. Otherwise, you’ll see an offer for 6 miles per dollar. I don’t know when this promotion ends:
You do not need to pay with your MileagePlus card in order to take advantage of this offer.
MileagePlus shopping promo
The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 500 bonus miles with every $250 spent through the portal. Maximum bonus is 2500 miles (e.g. $1250 total spend).
Chase Freedom 5 points per dollar
If you have a Chase Freedom card and you haven’t yet spent $1500 at department stores and/or Amazon.com this quarter, then you can still earn 5 points per dollar at Sears.
In prior tests, I found that you can earn the 5% bonus by buying Sears e-gift cards, but not physical gift cards.
Gift cards allowed, but not for long
Currently, most point earning portals show that Sears is allowing gift cards, but only through 12/18/13:
It has long been the case that Sears’ physical gift cards earn portal points despite terms stating otherwise, but e-gift cards only earn points when the terms explicitly allow gift cards. We learned that recently when Sears offered an amazing 16 miles per dollar through this same portal (see “Lessons learned from Sears 12X and 16X offers“).
Maximizing points per dollar
Here’s how to maximize your point earnings for purchases at Sears (assuming you have both required credit cards and you have not already maximized any of the promotions listed):
- Go through the MileagePlus portal to Sears
- Buy e-gift cards and pay with your Freedom card. Ideally, buy a multiple of $125 worth of e-gift cards, up to a maximum of $625 (e.g. buy either: $125, $250, $375, $500, or $625)
- Once you receive the e-gift cards, go through the MileagePlus portal again.
- Buy merchandise and pay with your e-gift cards.
Assuming you bought $125 worth of e-gift cards and $125 worth of merchandise with those gift cards, here is how the points add up:
- Purchase of e-gift cards: 5 points per dollar from Freedom card, plus 8 miles per dollar from portal = 13 miles per dollar
- Use of e-gift cards to buy merchandise: 8 miles per dollar
- Portal bonus: $125 e-gift card purchase + $125 merchandise purchase = $250. Bonus = 500 miles = 4 miles per dollar (based on $125 in out of pocket expenses)
- Total miles per dollar: 25
- Total miles earned on $125 spend: 3,125
Notes and cautions
- Portals are never perfect. There is always a risk that expected miles won’t materialize.
- The numbers calculated above assume that purchases total exactly $125 with no tax or shipping charges. In reality, you’ll probably spend more or less than that and there will be sales tax, at least, that won’t earn 8 miles per dollar through the portal. So expect your results to be something less than 25X.
- Merchandise purchased with gift cards do not get the purchase protections automatically given by many credit cards.
- Sears sends almost all gift card purchases to their fraud department to be verified. You will most likely receive a phone call asking for proof of identity before your order will be processed. If it is processed after 12/18/2013, the purchase might not earn miles from the portal.
- After 12/18, if the 8X promo is still running, you should be able to replicate all of the above results by reloading gift cards rather than buying new ones.